WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Julius Avery's Overlord, in theaters now.
Despite not receiving as much screen time as Captain America or Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury has stolen virtually scene he's in. Since his 2008 debut in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, Fury has been one of the most important figures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not only for his role as director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also as the architect of the Avengers initiative.
That said, the big-screen Fury differs significantly from his comic book counterpart, who led the Howling Commandos during World War II, and continued fighting into the modern era after his life was saved by the experimental Infinity Formula, which stopped his aging. With that in mind, director Julius Avery's Overlord shapes its lead, Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo), in such a way that the film actually could serve as a Nick Fury origin that fits well into the MCU.
Overlord's Boyce Has a Similar Background
In the MCU, Fury rises to the rank of colonel in the Army, during the height of the Cold War, which leads to a role in S.H.I.E.L.D. to work with the World Security Council. However, Overlord could have easily synced up Jackson's Fury to the character's comic book origin, as the like-minded Boyce goes about cutting down Nazis in France during World War II.
Just like the classic Fury, Boyce leads a unit of soldiers against the Nazis, and helps to destroy their plans to create an army of undead super-soldiers. He talks about his family's hardships in the United States, just like Fury did to Captain America in The Winter Soldier, offering insight into how both men try to make a difference. Boyce, as a young, black man, recognizing the world needs something bigger -- an ideal, a symbol -- to protect it is exactly the kind of purpose that would drive Fury's lifelong mission.
The Super-Soldier Opportunity
In the MCU, Fury is an ordinary human, at least from what we know so far. But in the comics, he's nearly a century old, due to the age-slowing effects of the Infinity Formula. Imagine Jackson's Fury fight in war after war, across decades, under different names, before assuming his current identity. Overlord creates that backdrop, with Boyce's discovery a revival serum the Nazis are using to reanimate their dead, which he uses to try to save his friend.
That substance used to create the serum is mined by the Nazis from the soil of the French town where much of Overlord takes place, and it's certainly hinted in the finale that the Americans could return to do the same. It wouldn't take much to imagine a similar scenario in the origin of the Infinity Formula and even Project: Rebirth, which created Captain America.
Boyce's corporal, Ford (Wyatt Russell), warned him not to allow the Americans to obtain the Nazi serum, which sets up a soldier who's skeptical of his own government, in line with the cynical Fury.
A Reason to Fight HYDRA
In Overlord, the evil Dr. Wafner (Pilou Asbaek), who goes toe to toe with Boyce and his unit, has an accent that's eerily similar to Hugo Weaving's as Red Skull. He too is obsessed with helping to propel the Reich to glory, which acts as a perfect backstory for Johann Schmidt, made even more fitting when Wafner is shot, leaving his face disfigured. Although the serum is intended only for the death, Wafner uses it on himself, and mutates, which effectively makes him resemble the Red Skull.
Boyce's battle with the Nazi scientist feels like early-era Fury taking on what could easily be the predecessor of Hydra. Wafner's team is a secret science division that employs technology, the occult and whatever else it can get its hands on in an effort to rule the world. In other words, it's the perfect catalyst for Boyce to realize the Allies would eventually need to fight fire with fire, whether it's with super-soldiers of their own or weapons of mass destruction, to level the playing field against an immortal enemy.
Directed by Julius Avery from a script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith, Overlord, starring Jovan Adepo, John Magno, Wyatt Russell, Bokeem Woodbine, Pilou Asbaek, Jacob Anderson and Iain De Caestecker, is in theaters now.